Dick Lee is in his 20th season as Iowa State's head women's track and cross country coach and his program continues to produce All-Americans and Big 12 Conference champions. His latest achiever includes 800-meter standout Ada Anderson. Anderson raced to sixth-place finish at the 2005 Indoor Track and Field Championship, earning All-American honors for the second straight season.
How well has the season gone in terms of training?
"This is our final exam for most of the kids, except for the ones that have qualified for regionals. We'll see how well everything's gone throughout the year. This is going on the big stage. We've had dress rehearsals throughout the year, so we'll find out this weekend."
Who on the team has exceeded your expectations this outdoor season?
"A lot of how we judge our success is based off of this coming weekend, so that one is a tough one. Nicole Teitsworth qualified for regionals. A year ago, or even at the beginning of the season, if you would have asked her the chance of qualifying for regionals, it was pretty slim. Her performance has been a big surprise. Erica Lynn, with her marks at Drake, pretty much assured her a spot at nationals. We thought she was going to be better this year, but we didn't think there would be that much improvement. Those are probably our two athletes who have seen the most improvement from a year ago."
Talk a little bit about 800-meter runner Ada Anderson.
"I've been trying to take some of the pressure off Ada, but she really wants to win a Big 12 championship. This is her last shot at it in the 800-meter run and it's one of her goals. She has been runner-up indoors and lost the race indoors a year ago because of an official's call, but she's very motivated to do what she has to do to win a conference championship this outdoor season. She has had a very good career. She's one of those certain kids, that when they graduate, you wish they had another two or three years to be in the program, she's definitely one of those. She's been a big part of the success we've had in the last couple years. We're hoping she goes out on an exciting note, but the 800 is going to be a competitive race with Ashley Patten from Missouri, the girl from Texas Tech and a couple others in there. It's going to be a battle. You could run great and finish third or fourth, you could run great and win it."
How do you think 400-meter hurdler Sara Boisen will perform at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships?
"We're in one of those situations where we hope every other meet we have a great performance. She had a great run in Waco two weeks ago and she likes that track. She's much stronger than she was a year ago and the 400 hurdles are a tough event. You can run 60-flat and you may get to finals, you just don't know. It's one of those events every year that can change rapidly as to the quality of the performers. For all of our kids we have to be ready that first day of prelims. There's no sliding through to get to finals. You have to be ready to put your best effort out."
Talk about the rest of the team in general and performance at the Big 12.
"We're pretty thin in the sprinters and hurdlers area. We're not running a hundred-hurdler down there. Rebecca is red-shirting, and our two freshmen just are not ready for that kind of competition. Overall, team-wise we're leaving two national performers at home. Agota Kosuda was conference champ last year and has been to nationals, and Rebecca Williams has been to nationals, both indoors and outdoors. Along with Jenny Mockler who's a past regional qualifier and a point-scorer in conference, and all three of those have been point-scorers in conference. Those three are red-shirting this outdoor season, so we take a big hit with those kids along with Lisa Koll, who was our number one cross-country runner in the fall, is also red-shirting. We're leaving a lot of talent back in Ames, but it was in their best interests. We'll take our lumps this year team-wise not having those kids here, but it was in their best interests to red-shirt them this outdoor season. We'll have all those kids back here next season."
Talk about some of your field event athletes and where they stand in the competition.
"Nicole (Teitsworth) has a great shot at scoring in the javelin. It's going to take our high jumpers' best effort to score in competition. High jump is very competitive. We had three kids jump great indoors, but only one scored, and that was Erica (Lynn). Erica, Leigh Wagner, Nicole Williams and April Fabert scored in the past. Jenny Gould is a newcomer. You never how newcomers are going to perform their first time in the conference meet. Some may jump really well, others will struggle the first time they see that level of competition. We've got a chance to score there. With Priya Hoze and Agota red-shirting, we don't have any horizontal jumpers that will be jumping. Then we have Erica in the multi-events. She's good at everything. She throws, jumps and she's come a long way in the running events. She's got a shot to be top three in the conference, and maybe higher depending on how each event goes."